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Is Amazon Trying to be Your Mom’s Streaming Service?

31 August 2015

From Decider:

Since it recently acquired the rights to Degrassi: Next Class, Fuller House, and Smosh: The Movie, Netflix has been making it clear that it wants to be hip for both teens and tweens. Amazon, on the other hand, seems to be more interested in courting full grown adults.

During a recent interview for Amazon Prime’s upcoming drama Hand of God(which lands on the streaming service on Friday, September 4), actor Garret Dillahunt dropped some juicy information about Amazon’s target demographic. When we asked Dillahunt, who has worked on everything from HBO‘s Deadwood to Fox’s Raising Hope to Academy Award winner 12 Years A Slave, how working for a streaming service is different from traditional television, he said this:

But what I love about the format is, you know, we don’t have advertisers that we have to please. We’re selling Prime memberships. You know, I’ve had people pitch shows to Amazon and they said ‘That’s great. Can you age it up a bit?’ Because kids aren’t the ones buying Prime memberships. How often do you hear that in a meeting? You want to make a show about adults?!?! You don’t want vampires? It’s interesting.

When you look at Dillahunt’s assertions logically, there seems to be a ring of truth. Traditional television makes the lion’s share of its income from selling advertising (that and cable carriage fees). Since Amazon doesn’t have ads, it can give its show runners a bit more leeway when it comes to content. But Amazon still has to make money off of its shows. How does Amazon Studios make money? By enticing people to buy Amazon Prime memberships. And who can afford to pay $99 up front in one easy payment? Hint: not teenagers.

. . . .

Each platform is seeking to define itself in a way that will appeal to certain viewers. With its eye on prestigious shows like Transparent and Downton Abbey, and quality programming for young children, Amazon is asserting that it wants to be the go-to streaming platform for full-grown adults.

Link to the rest at Decider


36 Comments to “Is Amazon Trying to be Your Mom’s Streaming Service?”

  1. While anecdotal, most people I know who have Prime are also paying for Netflix: I know I am. I probably shouldn’t be. But I’ve had them both since before Prime Videos were a thing.

    • I also have Prime and Netflix. I am probably at least one of Amazon’s target demographics, and I spend enough money there, they should be thinking about what I want to watch. lol. However, I have yet to watch one of their original shows. I’ve heard they are good, though.

      On the other hand, Bloodline, by Netflix, is awesome! That show probably also skews older demographics because all the characters in the show are late thirties on up, except for a few seldom seen teenagers.

      • BOSCH is pretty good.
        Pilot needed more work on dialogue but by the third episode it got better. About as good as LAW AND ORDER and that franchise has been around forever.

        NETFLIX’s DAREDEVIL was good, except for the weak finale. SENSE8 lost me by the third episode with its slow pacing, gratuitous sex, and PC pandering. When making a statement, 2×4 style, is more important than telling the story, I’m outta there.

        • Oh but Sense8 was only starting to get going on the third episode. That show gets AMAZING and more AMAZING after they finally introduce everyone. So happy they renewed it!

          DAREDEVIL lost me after about four episodes because I just can’t take anymore shows that have so much – martial arts as a solution to all jams – all the time. I really wanted to like that show too.

          • What you say to me? Let’s ninja fight!

            Lol. I love it just for that. Great choreography to the fights too, gritty. Old Boy style in some respects. The King Pin character was perfect. Good villains are a huge plus for me.

            So far Sense8 has been interesting. Not sure what episode I’m in. I did notice all the fringe demographics represented but I’m cool with it. I might be a bit fringe myself though, so…:-)

            I’ll draw the line if it gets preachy.

        • I had the opposite reaction; I loved Sense8 at first but then thought it started to flag later in the series. I didn’t find it pandering, nor the sex gratuitous, particularly given the show’s premise (eight people mentally/emotionally linked to each other); I thought the juxtaposition of different forms of intimacy was revelatory — and there’s a love scene midway through the series that was just brilliantly done. All that said, I agree about the pacing. It just felt off throughout, in fact.

          Daredevil was awesome. Brutal and well executed. And Lord that hallway fight was genius.

          I’m surprised no one mentioned House of Cards. Which has been consistently good, though this past season was a little . . . off.

    • I have all three; Prime, Hulu, and Netflix.
      If CBS.com had an XBOX app, I’d sign up for it, too. And drop cable TV altogether.

      There is a lot of value in non-appointment TV.
      And right now the four services are differentiating themselves nicely in both content and audience. There’s room for all.


    • I don’t have Netflix or Hulu. I do subscribe to Crunchyroll and Funimation for anime though.

      Mostly Prime Video is used in our house for my kids. My oldest devours all the Power Rangers seasons. And there are some really fantastic pre-school shows like Tumbleleaf. If you’ve got kids it’s so worth it. Though I really wish there was a way to block some of the more annoying shows. My kids once binged on Spongebob for months and I thought I might kill myself.

    • I have both, having dropped cable and gone with Roku.

      Amazon has a ways to go before they have the front-end usability and selection of Netflix. On the flip side, having Amazon is great because sometimes you are willing to pay for content not available free. For example, I rented Ex Machina for $5 and boy that was great!

    • Don’t feel guilty. I’m in the Prime/Netflix/Hulu camp, and I turned in my unwanted cable box to just use my Roku instead. The cable box was unwanted because Comcast sent it to me. They didn’t understand about me not having a TV and just using the high-speed internet instead. It confused them.

      I had talked my parents into dropping satellite and using Roku instead, so one Christmas they gave me a TV and Roku. I generously share my Prime subscription with them, they share their Netflix/Hulu with me. None of these services seem to notice or care that we’re in different households altogether.

    • I have prime, but I don’t have a streaming audio service. For the little I listen to music, Amazon has enough content even for my admittedly odd tastes.

      I can easily see some people deciding that they don’t need other streaming services for categories they treat more as ‘background’ and less as ‘primary focus’

    • Another Roku user, but with just Netflix and Prime.

  2. I’m a Prime member and I wouldn’t mind a show about vampires! But, you know, adult ones. Not teenage vampires.

    Actually, give me a smart PNR series and I know a lot of women my age who’d go nuts for it.

  3. Ad-based storytelling has long been a limited thing, hobbled as much by media-buyer perceptions as it is by reality. Les Moonves used to regularly make the point that Touched by an Angel, with its huge audience, had more viewers in the 18-34 demo than Buffy, which was the big media purchase for brands targeting that group. But the brands wanted to be associated with the cooler show, so data be damned. (And no, I’m not knocking Buffy, which was a great show.)

    When you have a financial reason for being able to go after a more mature viewer, you get to do The Wire, The Sopranos, and Rome and less CW fare. Bring it on, says I.

  4. I used to have Netflix, but dropped it several years ago when I stopped finding anything I wanted to watch.

    I didn’t get into using the Prime video service until much later, after I already had a Fire tablet.

  5. I have Prime and Netflix, though I go months without using Netflix. Amazon keeps me busy with free stuff and I also pay for series that tempt me. I buy so much, I can easily go over the price of cable tv in some months — but I dropped cable a couple of years ago, so I justify the purchases by reminding myself what I’m saving on tv.

    Never have understood advertisers’ disdain for older audiences. It’s like they think anyone over 54 doesn’t have 1) any money, and 2) any desire to try new products.

  6. And out here in the disenfranchised rural countryside, we capped satellite internet users can only watch on from the sidelines when discussions of movie streaming arise.

  7. I have Prime/Netflix and I see I am not at all alone with that. I am currently looking at Acorn TV which shows UK shows. For $4.95 a month I can see enough in their play list to keep me going for a while.

  8. I have never understood the love of the 18-34 demographic.

    Most people really start making money in their late 30s. And they HAVE money in their 40s and from then on (very broad generalizations, of course).

    Are there any studies that show the 18-34 demo spends more money? I’d assume people older than that would.

    In terms of this article, another way Amazon just steamrollers over conventional ways of doing business. Gotta admire it! 🙂

    • They think they can still ‘teach’ you what you really want/need. After that age you already know to ignore them …

      • More susceptible to advertising? More likely to use their credit card to buy bullcrap they don’t need? I can see that.

        I wonder if, post 2009, things are the same? If the advertisers aren’t making a mistake by going after the gullible poor instead of the experienced and wealthy?

        • @ Allen – Lol! 🙂

          @ Joseph – Exactly! I think that’s what Amazon is trying to do! Although not necessarily wealthy – middle class too.

    • Sociologists will tell you by the time you reach your 30s, the odds are your preferences for brands and they way yo perceive quality will already be set. Whether that’s true or not, I dunno, but advertisers have been acting on that premise since at least the 40s.

    • If I’m remembering things I read in the long ago, the 18 to 34 yo male demographic is actually the hardest to sell to. The way I understood it, if you can capture those guys, everyone else will come along with them so they’re the ones you need to target. Never made sense to me, and maybe I’m remembering wrong.

      I do remember reading that Firefly was canceled, not because they weren’t getting ratings, but because the demographic was too old and too female.

      • Not saying that’s not true, but it doesn’t make sense since women control most of the consumer spending.

        We probably need to ask someone who can do more than guess about how adverts are targeted.

  9. Amazon originals seem to be going after two audiences: adult and kids (which is really targeting parents).

    Netflix seems to be attempting to broaden its offerings. It has a range of adult shows, a number of which will have second and third seasons upcoming. So they don’t need as many new adult shows. Adding shows that appeal to teens/tweens make sense.

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